Guyton de Morveau, Louis Bernard

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Guyton de Morveau, Louis Bernard


Born Jan. 4, 1737, in Dijon; died Jan. 2, 1816, in Paris. French chemist and political figure. A lawyer by education.

During the Great French Revolution, Guyton de Morveau was a deputy to the Legislative Assembly (1791-92) and the National Convention (1792-95). In 1794 he became a professor at the Polytechnic School in Paris, in 1795 a member of the Institut de France, and in 1800 master of the mint; after the Bourbon restoration in 1814, he was removed from service because he had voted for the execution of Louis XVI.

Guyton de Morveau was concerned with questions of applied chemistry: he introduced coke smelting of cast iron into France (1771), organized the production of saltpeter in Dijon (1778-80), and proposed chlorine fumigation as a new method of disinfection (1773). At first, Guyton de Morveau was a convinced advocate of phlogiston theory; in 1786, he shifted to the antiphlogiston views of A. Lavoisier. In 1787, Lavoisier, Guyton de Morveau, K. Berthollet, and A. Fourcroy worked out a new rational chemical nomenclature, based on a system of chemical names that Guyton de Morveau had proposed in 1782. During the revolution, as a member of the Committee of Public Safety, he greatly facilitated the organization and development of production of steel, saltpeter, gunpowder, and other indispensable materials for defense, and he lectured in training courses for workers and technicians. As commissar of the Northern Army, Guyton de Morveau personally directed the utilization of a captive aerostat for scouting purposes during the battle at Fleurus (June 27, 1794), thus contributing to the victory of the republican troops over the Austrian interventionists.


Starosel’skaia-Nikitina, O. A. Ocherki po istorii nauki i tekhniki perioda Frantsuzskoi burzhuaznoi revoliutsii 1789-1794. Moscow-Leningrad, 1946.
Bouchard, G. Guyton Morveau, chimiste et conventionel. Paris, 1938.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.